Toronto Jazz Festival 2007
Toronto Jazz Festival
June 22 - July 1, 2007
The 21st edition of the Toronto Jazz Festival (June 22 to July 1, 2007) showcased familiar faces, marquee performances, and new discoveries in both large and more intimate venues.
The Mainstage concerts under the big tent on Nathan Philips Square featured key performances by Chris Botti, Delfeayo Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Holy Cole, and Jean Luc Ponty. One configuration change from previous years is the removal of long tables so that more seats could be accommodated.
John Scofield with Medeski Martin and Wood
Frequent festival visitor, John Scofield, was on tap for two performances. On the first muggy night, he was joined by Larry Goldings on the Hammond organ and electric piano, and Jack DeJohnette on drums for their "Trio Beyond formation as a tribute to Miles Davis' drummer, the late Tony Williams. The following night, Scofield joined Medeski Martin and Wood for a mostly standing-room only event to accommodate the sell-out crowd of fans and curious folks. These guys have recorded before in 1998 with the influential album "A Go Go. A JazzTimes article by Andy Tennille in February of this year outlines how Scofield simply wanted to play with them when he became more familiar with MMW. How did they get in touch? He called the fan line and simply left a message. You can imagine that for the first recording, the group was just getting comfortable playing with Scofield.
For this project the focus was on going to the next level by stressing a groovier and edgier direction. "Hanuman exemplified just those qualities in the opening number to set the stage for the evening. For the whole evening, Scofield was standing slightly to the left of the other musicians to show non-verbally that they were two separate entities, but music was very much in unison and the fun chemistry was there for all to see. The mainly younger audience responded very enthusiastically throughout the show and couldn't resist the head boppin' effect of a hard-grooving number like "Little Walter Rides Again. Such a tune has a clear reference to the Miles Davis bands from the Amandla and Tutu projects of the jazz great's fusion years.
The mood shifted with "Tequila and Chocolate with it's easy samba-bossa feel preceded by Chris Wood's flamenco-like bass lines. Medeski used the keyboards to effectively play accordion-sounding melodies over the piece. He and Scofield complemented each other very well in the melodic progressions. For the most part the group as a whole transitioned from one tune to the next by slowing down progressively to Scofield's notes before picking things up again. For the soft-sounding ballad "Julia, Chris Wood switched to a standing bass. After 90 minutes, the audience showed it would enjoy more music by the group, as there was no opening act. They had certainly heard a rich variety of sounds from funk, blues, jazz rock, and a hint of Brazilian.
United Trombone Summit
An audience spanning many generations were treated to an impressive collection of trombone players, the United Trombone Summit, led by Slide Hampton. The four top-of-the line musicians, kicked things off with Kurt Weil's beautiful "Speak Low. The group took it up a notch with the busy 'The Groove Blues and proceeded to play what they call a "Romance Medley, with each featured artist playing one chorus of a song. Fred Wesley started it off with Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance, followed by Steve Turre with Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood," Slide Hampton with Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine, and ending with Wycliffe Gordon. As a one-time bandleader for James Brown and part of the JB Horns, Wesley was the object of the band's attention on Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon, an acknowledgement of the erstwhile trombonist-leader's R&B/funk roots. The horns were backed by a solid rhythm section, with Corcoran Holt on bass, Luke O'Reilly on piano and Howard Franklin Jr. on drums. Closing the 80-minute set was the fast- tempo favorite by Ray Noble, "Cherokee, always ideal for horn instruments.
L:R Steve Turre, Wycliffe Gordon, Slide Hampton, and Fred Wesley
Roy Hargrove Quintet
If that was not enough to get pulses speeding, the Roy Hargrove Quintet hit the stage for the second part of the show. In order to produce his identifiable loud and crisp sound, Hargrove used his distinctive Monette trumpet and flugelhorn. A good representative piece of this group's style and energy was the original "Camaraderie from the latest album "Nothing Serious that gave all musicians a good workout thanks to the fast tempo. Montez Coleman, a real machine on drums, was joined by Gerald Payton on piano and Danton Boller on bass to complete the rhythm section. These guys are all relatively young, yet so talented. Joining Hargrove up front was Justin Robinson on alto sax. Especially with a frontline of trumpet and alto, this smokin' band truly represented the spirit of bebop's giants, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.